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We have nothing to fear…

27 September 2007

Though George W. Bush and Felipe Calderón – both presidents thanks to some shady mathematical votecounting – think otherwise.



The U.S. Administration managed to bamboozle the New York Times with tales of “Weapons of Mass Destruction” to provide mass distraction for their misdirected attack on Iraq (sort of like Woodrow Wilson attacking Colombia because Pancho Villa attacked Columbus, New Mexico. And, just as an aside, Pancho’s raid killed a much higher percentage of New Mexicans than Osama bin Ladin did of New Yorkers). It’s just too damn convenient for the probably unelected U.S. President though, NOT to have some kind of external enemy to justify stifling dissent.



Mexico, not having the luxury of external threats, but with a similarly dubious president, needs to look internally for threats. They too, appear to be bamboozling the New York Times.



James C. Mckinley Jr. and Antonio Betancourt write at length in the 26 Sepember Times about


The shadowy Marxist rebel group that has rattled Mexico three times in recent months by bombing natural gas pipelines has a long history of financing its operations with the kidnappings of businessmen, prosecutors say.


For different reasons, Robert Canasco (in a posting on the Oaxaca Study Action Group site) and I have problems with the whole “shadowy Marxist rebel group” claim. Canasco writes:


I found the choice of the word ‘motive’ strange in the last passage of the article. Mr. Canseco – guerilla-turned-lefty-politician – uses it in a strange way. Was ‘pretext’ what he was saying?

Mr. Canseco said he worried that the government would use the bombings as an excuse to harass peaceful left-wing organizations, like his group, the Democratic Popular Left, a collection of former guerrillas trying to participate as a political party.

“These bombings make it clear that after 40 years the military insurgents continue to exist and that they have become strong,” he said.. “More than anything else, this gives the government a motive to start up the dirty war again.”‘

These bombings – in early July (around july 4th?) and on spt. 10th (hmm just a day before 9/11) – seem ill-timed as the u.s. congress considers whether or not to send much counter-narcotics and law enforcement resources to the mexican police and, even, the military.

Is this ‘shadowy leftist group’ for real? Is anyone working against u.s.g. providing unconditioned military/police aid to a very brutal, corrupt Mexican govt.?


I had some of the same thoughts. I’d written before that I didn’t think the EPR was that serious a threat (by my reckoning, it’s a couple cranky geezers back in the hills), Despite the recent publicity (and I still haven’t seen anything to convince me that the alleged bombings of oil pipelines were anything but accidents – there had been a series of pipeline explosions just before the supposed bombings), EPR has not been taken seriously in years.


And, I question how seriously to take the New York Times. McKinnley writes that


… the rebels’ main base of operations is not in the mountains of southern Mexico, but in the teeming slums of Xochimilco and Tláhuac in Mexico City. Active members are believed to number no more than 100, officials say.


What? If Xochimilco and Tláhuac are “teeming slums” a hundred people is not a huge threat. I suspect McKinnley has never been in either place. I have. Both are semi-rural “delegaciones” of the Federal District… i.e., suburbia. Both have some rough urban neighborhoods, but they also include farms and ejitals. I once watched a cattle roundup in Xochimilco. Admittedly, the cowboys were living in high-rise apartments across from their farms (on chinapas), but if I”ve learned anything in far west Texas, it is to recognize real cowboys when I see ’em. I worked in Tláhuac (teaching English in a CD jewel case factory) and used to go there twice a week. Yeah, there are some very poor neighborhoods (there was a ciudad perdida — a shanty-town) behind the factory, like you find in other semi-rural communities, and some highly built up working class areas, but no “teaming slums.”


Sounds like the Times is depending on press releases again, and the copy editors are asleep (or lazy).


So, I believe is Austin Reed – a wargamer website operator who has some following as a military analyst in right wing circles – makes the “threat” into something more palatable for fear-mongering gringos: Lopez Obrador (the mild-mannered leftist sold to us as “a fiery leftist” — and the probably winner in the last presidential election) and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.



Mexican media claimed that a shadowy organization called “Mexican Movement Bolivariano” (MMB) helps finance, train and arm the Revolutionary Popular Army (EPR). The MMB is allegedly tied to Venezuela. Follow the dots and that leads to Hugo Chavez. Allegations like this are common in the media; a conspiracy involving big personalities (celebrities, leaders) thrills almost everyone and Mexico is especially fertile ground for political conspiracy theories. Current President Felipe Calderon made political hay out of contacts between PRD candidate Andres Manuel Lopez-Obrador and Chavez. Mexico is in the middle of a huge counter-insurgency operation — attacking drug gangs and corruption simultaneously. The Mexican government has had some success in its battle. Sidetracking Calderon’s Mexican government would be an attractive operation to a leftist caudillo like Chavez. In a recent statement following the September 10 bombing attack, the EPR called the Calderon government “illegitimate” and “fascist.” The illegitimate accusation certainly echoes the claims of Lopez-Obrador and his supporters, but these are common propaganda themes from the left and can be read as a pitch for internal support in Mexico. The EPR’s targeting has improved dramatically, but an alternative explanation for this improvement (and one far more likely) is that drug cartels are giving the EPR money and intelligence. The cartelistas certainly have contacts in PEMEX and could acquire very detailed information on Mexican pipelines. For a character like Chavez, riling Mexico is probably a bad move in the long term. Mexican intelligence can return the favor—they play dirty. Chavez isn’t stupid, but he is bombastic and at times believes his own bombast. Chavez just might take the risk. That’s why this is an interesting rumor, though currently it’s a rumor without real facts.



What all this comes down to is that the weak Calderón Administration is desperately trying to increase the internal security budget. They’ve managed to keep Lopez Obrador out of this media, but now they want to create a climate where dissent is equated with treason (as the Bush Administration almost did).


The “counter-insurgency” that Reed so lovingly fumulates over was supposed to be a war on narcos (no real objections from anyone), but — like our “War on Terror” — can be stretched to cover any dissenter you want. Living on the border, you almost come to accept the “security checks” on the highway as normal.


Fabiola Martínez, Roberto Garduño and Enrique Méndez in Jornada wrote about congressional opposition to increasing the CISEN (the Mexican equivalent of the CIA) budget, and using more CISEN operatives internally, as have all the Mexican dailies. But, then, I don’t think Austin Reed or James McKinnley bother to read Mexican papers.


Hugo Chavez, please. While some backers of Lopez Obrador also support Hugo Chavez (and why not?), the only evidence of any connection between the two was from the spin-machine of Dick Morris and other propagandists (er, “political advertisers”) for PAN in the last Presidential election. What? Hugo’s backing a bunch of old farts to bomb gas lines so that he can up the price of Chevron in the U.S.?


I smell bullshit — and for a change think the Oaxaca Study Action Group guys are on to something.

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